Opinion

Opinion

GOP forces game of budget roulette

August 17, 2012

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— The politics of “sequestration” illustrate the talent of congressional Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan for being on both sides of the budget issue: They play a game of “chicken” with federal outlays, demanding a balanced budget without tax increases, and then insist that it’s the Democrats’ fault if there’s a crackup.

This fiscal impasse will be a dramatic backdrop for the fall presidential campaign: As Election Day approaches, the clock will be ticking on across-the-board cuts of about 10 percent for the Defense Department and 8 percent for the rest of the government that will take effect Jan. 2, 2013, if nothing is done. Each side says it wants a compromise, but the voters will have to decide who can deliver a bipartisan solution that avoids a fiscal catastrophe and gets the country moving again.

Ryan, the likely GOP vice presidential nominee, and his party want to look like responsible budget-cutters. But from the evidence in the sequestration fight, this will be a hard case to make convincingly. Whipsawed all last year by tea party activists, Ryan and the House Republicans were insistently unyielding. They often looked like wreckers more than fixers.

Sequestration was meant to be the economic equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. It was tacked onto the 2011 Budget Control Act as a way of forcing a compromise by the ill-named “supercommittee” that was supposed to come up with a long-term deficit reduction plan. If it couldn’t make a deal, then the deliberately irrational, across-the-board process of sequestration would ensue — with the heaviest burden falling on the defense and intelligence programs meant to keep the country safe. And of course, there was no deal, and the sequestration meat grinder started whirring.

This game of budget roulette has players from both sides of the aisle. But it began with a deliberate effort by House Republicans to hold the nation’s economy hostage to force passage of their preferred budget package. The first version of budget brinksmanship was the GOP’s refusal to raise the debt ceiling. Then it became sequestration.

If President Obama had been a better politician, he would have seized the high ground by championing the Simpson-Bowles plan to stabilize the nation’s finances through a combination of budget cuts (including in entitlement programs) and tax increases. That’s where many Democrats know they must eventually go, but not too soon, lest they offend Democratic interest groups. Obama needs to step up to the challenge Ryan implicitly poses: How can entitlement programs be cut fairly and wisely?

As sequestration draws near, Ryan has drafted an alternative budget that would avoid the drastic cuts in national security spending. But it still avoids the tax increases Democrats say are necessary for a fair budget compromise. What’s more, Ryan and other GOP leaders have been demanding that the administration announce specific plans for how it will manage the cuts. Presumably, they want to carve out exemptions for defense programs. But really, this is more budget politics, making it appear that it’s Obama’s fault for implementing the cuts rather than Congress’ for passing them.

The White House has refused to play this game. Jeffrey Zients, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, told Congress this month: “Sequestration, by design, is bad policy, and Congress should pass balanced, deficit reduction to avoid it. ... The impact of sequestration cannot be lessened with advance planning and executive action.”

Zients offered some chilling examples of what the roughly 8 percent cuts will mean: the Federal Aviation Administration, which keeps the airways safe, will cut operations; the number of FBI and Border Patrol agents will be reduced, making the country less secure; weather forecasting by the National Weather Service will be affected. Ashton Carter, the deputy secretary of defense, said the Pentagon would seek to delay the impact on combat units, but that some units deploying to Afghanistan could receive less training.

And then there’s intelligence, perhaps the scariest aspect of budget roulette. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in an interview there could be cuts in overhead surveillance activities and counterterrorism operations. “You’re seriously putting the nation at risk, and I’m not being melodramatic,” Clapper said.

And whose fault is it that America is pointing the gun at itself and preparing to pull the trigger, absent an agreement before Jan. 2? That’s what this election will be about, in part. Ryan and the Republicans will have to explain why, over the past year, they have so consistently preferred brinkmanship to compromise.

— David Ignatius is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.     

Comments

Abdu Omar 2 years, 10 months ago

As long as Republicans owe allegence to Grover Norquist, there will be no compromise. Their goal is to represent the upper rich class and the middle and lower classes are nothing to them. We need leadership that represents all classes of people and will do what is best for ALL the people of America. Think this will happen? I am weary of the presidential campaign already and all of the negative ads on tv make America look bad. Let's find a better way!

Richard Heckler 2 years, 10 months ago

Rt Wing Libertarian Neocon Fundamentalist Tea Party for Economic Terrorism.

Funding for Economic Terrorism is provided by:

Wal-Mart / Exxon Mobil / Corrections Corporation of America / AT&T / Pfizer Pharmaceuticals

Time Warner Cable / Comcast / Verizon / Phillip Morris International / Koch Industries

Also assisted through a host of right-wing think tanks and foundations.

The Architects

http://www.justice.org/cps/rde//justice/hs.xsl/15044.htm

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/8/5/secretive_corporate_legislative_group_alec_holds

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/8/5/new_expos_tracks_alec_private_prison

http://www.truth-out.org/publicopoly-exposed/1310660473

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

"Republican" Economic Terrorists cost the USA too much money!

Abdu Omar 2 years, 10 months ago

It is greed not socialism that is the problem in the country. The corporations and individuals want more and more and that causes the "entitlements" to be expensive. If medical costs were under control, there wouldn't be a need to worry about medicare. I, for one, depend upon medicare and I am sure most of the seniors in this country depend on it as well. So it is your plan to let these seniors die early so you can make more money? How ridiculous!!!

headdoctor 2 years, 10 months ago

I wouldn't worry about Liberty_One's plan. His vision for Government is only found in books and that vision has never worked any where on the face of the planet.

headdoctor 2 years, 10 months ago

My mistake. All this time I thought it was greedy power hungry politicians that were the problem. That $220 trillion in unfunded liabilities is just another guesstimate that will be used for political spin. The current actual on and off budget amount is extremely high but only about one quarter of what it being stated.

Flap Doodle 2 years, 10 months ago

More than 1200 days without a Senate budget. How does Harry Reid spend his time?

tomatogrower 2 years, 10 months ago

"conversing with imaginary friends who tell him that Romney has not paid income taxes for the last ten years and then uses the Senate floor to relate that bit of misinformation.

Well, I guess that's better than the imaginary friends telling you that President Obama built a time machine to take him back to his birth, and placed birth announcements in the Hawaiian newspapers, then planted a fake birth certificate in the state's archives.

oldbaldguy 2 years, 10 months ago

we are screwed. i do not see anyone on the national scene that can pull us together to better the country. the defense and intel budgets can be cut, you just can't fights wars while you are doing it.

Mixolydian 2 years, 10 months ago

Game of chicken? Is it being played in front of a mirror? Claiming the Republicans are playing chicken is just ignorant. It takes two to do that dance.

This article could just as easily be written against the Democrats, i.e., Reid holding up every single job bill, budget, welform reform, and tax reform bill coming from the House. Just try to count the number of bills coming from the House to the Senate that Reid has declared dead on arrival.

Here's a comprimise, if the Republicans accept the tax rates of the 90's, then the Democrats should accept the Republican budgets, dollar for dollar, from the 90's. As it stands, Republicans don't want a tax increase on anyone, democrats refuse to do a simple budget.

jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

Norquist pledge R will never vote for a tax increase.

So, compromises such as the one you suggest aren't possible when they're in power.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Jafs is right. For the Republican Party "no compromise" has become their one overriding principle.

As the Republicans have moved rightward over the last 30 years, Democrats have done the same-- partly to attract the same corporate money that Republicans depend on, and partly to find some middle ground that would allow something, anything to get accomplished in a wide array of issues.

But what's almost NEVER happened in the last 30 or so years is for the Republicans to modify their agenda in order to find some middle ground.

Flap Doodle 2 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Nader, the 1970s called. Your relevance misses you and wants you to come back.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, snap, but I don't think there is an internet translator that can put Nader's words into your native language-- the language of utter nonsense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Excellent point.

At its core, capitalism is fiction, and its most ardent adherents live in a fantasy world that they seek to inflict on everyone else (for whom that fantasy becomes nightmare.)

jhawkinsf 2 years, 10 months ago

Capitalism is the worst form of economics man has ever devised, except for all the others.

Apologies, WC.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

The most hypocritical poster on this forum strikes again.

verity 2 years, 10 months ago

That's too precious. I always ignore him so I'm safe.

But surely you're toying with us.

Katara 2 years, 10 months ago

I find it ironic that he is appealing to an authority to enforce his demands.

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

Now the obvious compromise solution would be a tax cut for the middle, a tax increase for the very wealthy (offsetting to avoid impact on our "recovery") and cuts in domestic programs to where they were back in 2008 in balance with Defense cuts already underway.

Of course the Democrats will not buy any cuts in their favorite programs for their constituents any more than the Republicans will buy tax increases for their wealthy constituents - not sure many Democrats are not in league with that.

Just exactly who is refusing to compromise? Could it in reality be both parties at equal culpability?

I will call off my dogs if you will call off your??!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Republicans have two questions when it comes to budget decisions-- does it kill people, and does it put more wealth into the hands of the already wealthy?

And their answers go like this--

Defense (war) budget-- no cuts there, because it's a big cash cow for powerful corporate interests, and it kills lots of expendable people.

Social Safety Net-- takes money away from the wealthy, and keeps the poor, the elderly, the disabled and children (i.e., more expendable people) alive. Therefore, the more cuts the better.

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

Really,

I missed that in the Republican Party Platform. Perhaps you could source your comment (KU like)

verity 2 years, 10 months ago

Oh, oh, tange, are you going to get disappearededed now for disobedience?

Going to miss you.

(Mistake, right, wink,wink)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

One way to deal with complicated issues is just to declare up to be down.

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

Liberty, source your facts. Yes at any given moment SS and Medicare take from lower income people and give to - well both. Half of all seniors are basically on ss only so they are certainly not rich. Maybe a few percent are.

But since SS and Medicare are intergenerational the money the young pay today returns to them later. In fact the whole logic behind SS and Medicare is to provide for lower income people in their later years. Just how many waitresses do you know that are able to accumulate enough wealth to retire ever. SS can and does help with that (same same Medicare). There are many many citizens that are in the same fix as waitresses. They do not get paid enough to really save anything.

We could get rid of SS and Medicare and pay them more - a lot more but in your world the government can not do that and the market certainly will not.

Bike_lover 2 years, 10 months ago

Liberty_one -- The MEDIAN net worth of 65 is $232,000. That means that half the people over 65 are worth less and half are worth more.

It's not the same as the AVERAGE.

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

you used average and now you use median. I can find no reputable source that placs the median at that level. It defies logic.

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

Your logic is horrible flawed.

Yes the average senior has a high net worth. Yet half have only SS and little or no savings. Any idea why. Because there are people like Bill gates that have billions and really do tip the average. It is kind of the same with the Republican argument about how the “rich” pay so much tax. They include the top two cohorts (upwards of about $80K) in which there are very large numbers of people who pay taxes making their argument. If we only include people in the top .5 % the taxes paid are less than the proportion of wealth held.

Your estimate of the off budget debt is driven by assumptions as to future inflation. If you do all your homework your will find that toward the out years is where all the money is. In that time frame a phone call will cost $100 and average salaries will approach half a million. Without changing taxes much we will be able to pay the bill.

Of course if we do a few smart things in the near term we will not get into such a mess. It just may be that our safety net is too generous. Just maybe the rest of the world can play policemen for a while. WE may need a surtax to address the SS and Medicare trust funds that we spent. We may need to make both programs less generous or ask more form the participant over a lifetime. Costs of medical care play heavily in your estimate. Those costs are based on taking the past inflation in medical expenses and projecting them forward. The inflationary cost historic includes going from essential little medical care – certainly not the life prolonging care we get today to what we have. The presumption that that will continue may just not be appropriate. Most of us in this country now have reasonable care.

I could go on.

Advocates and politicians love to make assumptions s and create big problems in order to scare us into doing what they want. They then retire and leave us with their mess. Are you one of those??

Katara 2 years, 10 months ago

His figures for the 35 and under set are skewed as well as those figures would include teenage part-time workers.

Katara 2 years, 10 months ago

Please post the link to the article you are sourcing for your figures, Liberty_One.

Katara 2 years, 10 months ago

You reference a blog that has a calculator to determine where you fall. There is no reference for these figures or anything to show how they were calculated. The author of the blog even states that he doesn't know when these figures were compiled.

While the young are going to have a lower net worth, your "figures" for the 65+ set is not even close to what the median net worth of households 65 and older.

"Median net worth of households 65 and older decreased to $170,128 from $195,890. For those under 35, median household net worth decreased to $5,402 from $8,528." http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2012/06/median-household-net-worth-down-35-percent/

Under 35 also includes part-time workers such as high school and college age workers. Neither group of high school workers or college workers will have a high net worth.They tend not to own houses (mortgaged or not) and tend to own little property. Additionally, some still have their income counted under their parents' (generally the 44-64 group) net worth.

I am not even really sure why you are discussing net worth in regards to your assertion that SS & Medicare takes from the poor and gives the wealthy. Are you also factoring in Survivor's Insurance and Disability?

Katara 2 years, 10 months ago

That doesn't confirm your point at all. It refutes your "facts". Additionally, there is a huge jump between the incomes of the under 35 set and the 35-44 set and further on up to the 65+ group. Why didn't you include those age groups? Are those age groups supposed to be neither poor nor wealthy? If that is the case, then it refutes your point that SS and Medicare take from the poor and give to the wealthy.

Additionally, you ignore the other factors that influence net worth (such as education). Given that those other factors are delayed (I pay the price now when I am young which influences my net worth now & get the benefits later and influences my net worth then), that also refutes that SS and Medicare take from the poor and gives to the wealthy because you are assuming that those factors are not conscious decisions to delay the benefit.

Katara 2 years, 10 months ago

On top of that, if you work very little (such as a high school kid working during the school year that is included in your under 35 age group), no FICA taxes are taken out so you still have a very low net worth and still are not having anything taken from you to go to a wealthier group.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 10 months ago

Consider five people. Their average net worth is $100,000. One person has a net worth of $500,000. What can you say about the net worth of the other four people?

Be careful with your interpretation of statistics.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 10 months ago

Using the average, the median, and the mode together are more telling. If they align, you have something resembling a normal curve. In the cases of income and wealth, I'm guessing that the distributions are bimodal and skewed.

We usually get mixed reports. For example, real estate reports usually mix things up, reporting an average home price and a median income. Sometimes, I wonder if that's deliberate. Readers cannot compare and interpret the information.

camper 2 years, 10 months ago

The above link is interesting and it summarizes 1) Federal Tax Receipts and 2) Federal Outlays since 1940. The trend has been an uptick in both since 1980 (with a brief reprieve in the late 90's).

So why are these numbers increasing at alarming amounts? We were spending about .5 trillion in the 80's and now it is about 3.5 trillion. Our population has not increased that much.

Here is my guess. The cost of health care and defense is far greater than the rate of inflation. The rising costs of these two items may very well be the primary source of our woes.

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

Actually Defense as we have known it has only increased about 13% in real terms since 1990. That despite two wars – the result of which from our national standpoint might be considered marginal. I did not include Defense spending on homeland security as that is real and growing and different.

I would look more closely at the many components of the social safety net. For example food stamp costs have almost doubled since 2008 contributing to a big fight that has delayed passage of the farm bill.

Now maybe the net needed to grow but sourcing the right cause seems a more rational thing to do

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

You are absolutely right. The comparison is 2014 spending with 1990 spending. The costs of the wars are now sunk costs - we can not get them back. In fact, if you have been observant you will have noted that all the equipment we bought is now worn down badly and ready for the junk yard after years of combat related use. We don't even get an inventory plus up from the mess. WE also have future VA and other costs associated with the people we used to fight those wars. But we have reduced our annula expenses so theyt take less of our future budgets.

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

Pesky inflation. I used 2014 because that reflects about two years of the Obama decreases in DOD and a presumed withdrawal from the big A.

camper 2 years, 10 months ago

George, wouldn't it be more rational to look first at the bigger components of the budget. From the 2011 budget:

Social Security (21%), National Defense (19%), Medicare (14%), Interest (9%), Medicaid (8%), Food Stamps (2%).

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

I used the term social safety net as when you combine all the different programs in that pot it is actually right up there with the rest..

You are right, we must address social security and Medicare and I believe that debate has started. As in everything we do with the best of intentions the result frequently becomes unmanageable and we are faced with hurting people to whom we made promises (or collected money).

camper 2 years, 10 months ago

Since 1990 food stamp outlays have increased from $15B to $76B which is a 400% Increase.

Since 1990 Medicare outlays have increased from $125B to $525B which is a 320% increase.

However, the budget impact from the food stamp program is much smaller because it is only 2% of the total federal budget, while Medicare is 15%.

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

Hi camper, I used 2008 since I referenced that year as a baseline to return to in my first post. You are right over the longer haul

Yep, Medicare and Medicaid and VA medical and essentially all medical costs have increased by roughly the same amount per patient. Yep I see a lot of arguments that Obama Care will be free. Cheep shot. If we do not address the costs of medical care we just may go broke. That said and as noted above I am not sure future medical inflation will necessarily equal past medical inflation

camper 2 years, 10 months ago

George, I would never want to see Social Security, Medicare, or our basic Safety Net cut. I would like to see why they are costing us so much. We have problems if we don't because our tax revenues will never be able to keep up with these rising costs. This is why we are having these huge defecits.

Some however say that our health care system is working just fine and that we need to repeal Obamacare. These guys do not see the elephant in the room.

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

I agree.

It is working just fine if your criteria is thta most of us have basic health care in one form or another. A story

When I was twenty we did not have medical insurance - new thing. - and my care was quite limited as it was basically fee fro service

Along the way I remember when MRIs came along and we (now with insurance) went at 2 in the morning because the care was new and the machine was expensive.

Now most everybody can get an MRI if deemed medically necessary. Perhaps the increase in medical costs are to a non trivial degree the result of better (and more expensive) mediial care.

Will the slope of that care continue to increase or are the projections (based on history) misleading??

cowboy 2 years, 10 months ago

Republican Priorities....

Kansas Rep Kevin Yoder busted for swimming naked with a bunch of other GOP reps , staffers , and family member folks while drunk and on a trip to israel staying in $1000 dollar a night rooms. GOP spokespeople called the sea biblicly significant , what a pile of hooey.

Check out Politico for the whole story.

Resign tomorrow Yoder you loser !

Katara 2 years, 10 months ago

The local news just had a story of Akin who claimed that pregnancy rarely occurs in legitimate rape. Politico also has that story too. He claims he misspoke. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79864.html?hp=l1

Honestly, I think it is now just a race to full on crazy.

Katara 2 years, 10 months ago

I think he means rape-rape rather than just rape.

Katara 2 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps, but you don't have 40lbs of rape.

Katara 2 years, 10 months ago

It was legitimate rape. I was wearing a short skirt when it was delivered.

verity 2 years, 10 months ago

I clicked the link and thought I'd got The Onion by mistake. Jon Stewart will be in heaven.

cowboy 2 years, 10 months ago

What happens in Galilee stays in Galilee .....

cowboy 2 years, 10 months ago

LAWRENCE — Third District congressional candidate Kevin Yoder refused an officer's request during a traffic stop to participate in a Breathalyzer test to determine whether he was driving while intoxicated, according to court records obtained Saturday.

Yoder, a Republican four-term member of the Kansas House from Overland Park, was questioned by a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper in February 2009 after being pulled over for speeding on K-10 highway. Yoder declined at that time to take the breath test. The case was closed in June 2009, and records indicated he entered a plea of guilty to speeding in a Lawrence courtroom.

Just to refresh your memories

verity 2 years, 10 months ago

Just read over some of the comments above regarding Social Security and the wealth of seniors. What nobody mentions, unless I missed it, is that the $232,000 was accumulated over a lifetime so that people would have money when they retired---just like they are supposed to do. A large part of that might be tied up in a house where the person is living so it is not something they can be using for day to day living. Since it's likely that the senior no longer has a job which brings in income, the money they have accumulated will have to last them for the rest of their lives---and mostly people don't know how long they are going to live.

I have paid into the Social Security system just as I saved and invested money---in expectation that eventually I would reap the rewards. To use net worth to say that the poor are supporting the rich doesn't make sense. Having a net worth of $232,000 when you're 65+ doesn't make you wealthy. If you only spend $30,000 a year, it will be gone in less than eight years.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

"A large part of that might be tied up in a house where the person is living so it is not something they can be using for day to day living."

Bingo. And although there has been much arrogant ignorance displayed on the difference between "median" and "mean," the fact is that there are millions of seniors whose net worth is much less than $232,000. Assuming that SS is their main source of income (from a trust fund that they paid into for decades,) property taxes and maintenance on their house could very well suck up a large portion of their very limited income.

jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes, and that's only one of the many flaws with the argument.

Others are the obviously left out group between 35-retirement age, who are middle aged and probably middle income, neither rich nor poor.

The better comparison would be between those that contribute to FICA, if one could find them, and those that are retired.

Also, of course, we'd have to look at how those at the top skew averages as well.

verity 2 years, 10 months ago

The point that first struck me, in addition to $232,000 not being a lot of net worth and that maybe I didn't make clear, is that comparing the net worth of a thirty-something who is looking ahead to decades of accumulating wealth and the net worth of a person who is at the point of spending down rather than accumulating is comparing unlikes. Even though I had much less net worth at 35 than I do now, I had more disposable income than I will in future years when I can no longer have a job.

verity 2 years, 10 months ago

Bozo, jafs and I did not say any of that or in any way implied it and from our other posts, you know that's not the way we feel. Argue with the facts if you can, but personal attacks do not make an argument.

tbaker 2 years, 10 months ago

40% of every dollar the US government spends is borrowed. We are on the exact same path Europe was on. We are headed to the exact same result of debt crisis and austerity measures which will break the promise the US government made to every citizen who has paid into the two programs that are driving the deficit; Medicare and Social Security. Either we reform these programs and reduce spending overall, or we will face a terrible crisis that will hurt everyone in this country, most especially the young and the poor. We need real solutions. Continued demagoguery and political BS isn’t solving the problem and all Mr. Obama and the Dems have done is make it worse.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 months ago

Real solutions? Here's a few. Single-payer healthcare system, which could cut costs on healthcare by $hundreds of billions. Cutting war spending by 80%, saving $hundreds of billions more. Cut subsidies to Wall Street and all the corruption that goes with it, saving $hundreds of billions more. Increase taxes on the wealthy, increasing revenues significantly.

That's certainly better than shoving grandma under the bus, as blaming the deficit entirely on SS and Medicare as you do would require.

tbaker 2 years, 10 months ago

At the risk of sounding redundant, wise up Bozo. Give your dogma a rest and do a little research. Medicare and SS are driving the deficit. They are the two biggest black holes that have to be fixed or the country defaults and fiscal Armageddon happens.

jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

They're only slightly more, percentage wise, than defense spending, last time I looked.

Something like 21% to 19%.

So defense spending is also a huge issue, I'd say.

camper 2 years, 10 months ago

Rising health care costs are possibly the single largest reason US budget defecits are getting bigger. We finally have a president who wanted to do something about this issue and he was labeled a socialist for doing so. The demagoguery I see is coming from the Republicans.

George Lippencott 2 years, 10 months ago

Camper,

We part company here. An aside, I can not believe I find myself with Katara opposing LO – I must be reforming.

I believe both parties are well aware of the impact of continued escalating medical expenses. I have heard no integrated solution from either. The Republicans argue that the force of the market will drive down costs (that does happen) using vouchers. Their hyped numbers are not consistent with continued quality care. The Democrats use the power of government to reduce costs (payments to providers under Medicare (reduced $700 billion) that somehow does not reduce the availability of care (normal market response to such a move).

There have been a gazillion studies on how to address this problem. IMHO the preferred way is a selection of a number of different remedies.

Things like increases in the payroll tax to cover projected future cost increases (pay for what we get). Perhaps an adjustment in eligibility age (we are living longer). Perhaps some means testing (starting small with current seniors and growing over time). The best practices (death panels) under Obama care are useful. Moving in part from acute care to preventive care will help but probably not as much as hyped. We may even need surtax for a while to address the “boomers” having spent the trust fund monies (part A) and underestimated the Part B costs (should actually charge something for Part B under the payroll tax category.

Of course we could throw it all out and go to an NHS. We could even make it fair by denying the rich access to any other care but the NHS as Mrs. Clinton tried to do. Of course we would have to do many of the things above or an NHS system on the current model would likely also bankrupt us.

Bottom line: start with a few things we agree with and build. The American People are unlikely to deliver any crushing blows this fall (or ever). Trying to impose over arching ideological based solutions IMHO seems to get in the way. Use those studies – we paid for them. Get started! Stop yelling!!!

And figure out means, medians and averages related to income or net worth or potential. Send LO back to school!!

jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

George has a good point in there.

It's often charged that Obamacare will reduce benefits to seniors, which is not true. But, reducing payments to providers may in fact result in more providers who don't want to take Medicare, which may result in seniors having trouble finding good doctors that do take it.

What good is it to have good Medicare benefits if you can't find a good doctor to see?

My solution to Medicare and SS is to make them both need-based and means tested, and to stop collecting separately for them (it's a farce to do so since the government just uses the money for other things anyway). For example, we could set a monthly amount - say $1500/month. Anybody who has more income than that from other sources doesn't get SS/Medicare, and people who have less than that get subsidized up to it (if you have $700/month, you get $800/month), and Medicare benefits.

One could think of it as insurance, or as retirement supplementation services (a la fire, police, etc.)

tbaker 2 years, 10 months ago

ObamaCare takes $718 billion out of Medicare and establishes the un-elected 15 member Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board to unilaterally decide what Medicare will and will not pay for. How does that not reduce what seniors on Medicare end up getting?

Windemere 2 years, 10 months ago

The defenders of the $718 B say it comes from "savings" not cuts. That is, as I understand it, they are announcing they will simply pay less for certain medical costs. I gather it has to do with trimming the growth of the budget for Medicare (the planned payments/increases built in for the future). What they don't say is what the result will be; when you cut compensation, won't the providers do less or perform services in a lesser manner? They'd have us believe it's "fat" that can just be cut with no downside.

Windemere 2 years, 10 months ago

Bozo talked about "Real solutions" but these ideas raise some serious issues that should not be dismissed out of hand. "Single-payer healthcare system, which could cut costs on healthcare by $hundreds of billions." Yes, would cut costs. But it amounts to a huge power grab by the federal government and many believe that rationing/signficant waits for medical care would be inevitable. Peoples' concerns about such things shouldn't be trivialized. Why doesn't the free market work to drive costs lower? From what I've read, much blame goes to: restrictions on insurance companies to market across state lines to compete for customers; protectionist laws that limit choices about medical care and cause people to have to see an expensive doctor vs a cheaper, easier alternative; and perhaps most important, the fact that employer-provided health care is tax deductible. Of course prices will go up because the incentives are skewed. Make it more like auto insurance and prices will go down. In fact, it's the Fed govt that caused our health insurance to be tied to our employers -- wage control laws in WWII made employers want to offer non-wage incentives to attract employees, so bingo, offer them health insurance. A nice mess ensues.

The "waste", it seems, is in the big money reaped by those in the medical field and those who supply the health care industry (drug companies, etc). Can't we take back this waste by using the might of consumers to drive prices down? It works in other sectors of the economy.

"Cutting war spending by 80%, saving $hundreds of billions more." Well, that's scary to a lot of people. Yes, the US has often used military power in a very bad way, too arrogant, too power-hungry. But Is there any thing more important than national defense? Cuts of 80%? Seems reckless.

"Cut subsidies to Wall Street and all the corruption that goes with it, saving $hundreds of billions more." End corporate welfare.

" Increase taxes on the wealthy, increasing revenues significantly." To a degree, seems fair. But not some ridiculous rate like one sees in Western Europe. And even if the wealthy paid a whole lot more, doesn't that amount to just a tiny increase in revenues compared to the scope of the problem? And at what cost in taking away the incentive to invest and take chances in starting or growing businesses?

It's a straw man argument to say that those who are very leery of things like Obamacare are the greedy rich. Many people who are opposed or have big reservations are not wealthy. Freedom and choice matter.

Armstrong 2 years, 10 months ago

Why do you care observant ? Barry has a lock on the election - in Larryville. Meanwhile the rest of America is anxiously waiting to help Barry live out his words from '08. " It's the economy, if I have'nt turned the economy around in my first term I will be a one term president". Buh Bye Barry

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